Asbestos in construction
Asbestos construction in developed countries
The use of asbestos in new construction projects has been banned for health and safety reasons in many developed countries or regions, including the European Union, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand. A notable exception is the United States, where asbestos continues to be used in construction such as cement asbestos pipes. The 5th Circuit Court prevented the EPA from banning asbestos in 1991 because although EPA research showed it would cost between $450 and 800 million and save around 200 lives in a 13-year length, the EPA did not provide adequate evidence for the safety of alternative products. Until the mid-1980s, small amounts of white asbestos were used in the manufacture of Artex, a decorative stipple finish, however, some of the lesser-known suppliers of Artex were still adding white asbestos until 1999. Removing or disturbing Artex is not recommended, as it may contain white asbestos.
Prior to the ban, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry in thousands of materials, some are judged to be more dangerous than others due to the amount of asbestos and a materials friable nature. Sprayed coatings, pipe insulation and Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) are thought to be the most dangerous due to their high content of asbestos and friable nature. Many older buildings built before the late 1990s contain asbestos. In the United States, there is a minimum standard for asbestos surveys as described by ASTM Standard E 2356-04. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes some but not all asbestos-contaminated facilities on the Superfund National Priorities list (NPL). Renovation and demolition of asbestos contaminated buildings is subject to EPA NESHAP and OSHA Regulations. Asbestos is not a material covered under CERCLA's innocent purchaser defense. In the UK, the removal and disposal of asbestos and of substances containing it are covered by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
In older buildings (e.g. those built prior to 1999 in the UK, before white asbestos was finally banned), asbestos may still be present in some areas e.g. old bath panels, concrete water tanks and many other places. Being aware of asbestos locations reduces the risk of disturbing asbestos. See the asbestos image gallery (external link) to see some common asbestos locations.
Removal of asbestos building components can also remove the fire protection they provide, therefore fire protection substitutes are required for proper fire protection that the asbestos originally provided